Fifth Installment of “Savoring the Realm of the Mikagura-uta” Lecture Series
The fifth installment of “Savoring the Realm of the Mikagura-uta” lecture series sponsored by the Oyasato Institute for the Study of Religion was held at 13:00 on August 25. (It was held on the sixth floor of the Tenrikyo Doyusha building.) The lecturer this month was Masahiko Okada sensei and he was assigned to discuss the so-called “Section Four” or “Fourth Section” (Dai-yonsetsu) of the Mikagura-uta, also known as the Yorozuyo Hasshu (Eight Verses of the Yorozuyo).
First, I found it amusing to see the following notice at the back of the handout we all received: “Because this handout is a list of incomplete notes for the use for this presentation, please refrain from reprinting or citing it.” I wonder this is a not-so-subtle hint to potential bloggers like myself to cease and desist from reporting on the lecture. Well, we won’t have any of that self-censorship here.
First, I’ll take the liberty of putting the official translation of Yorozuyo here:
Looking all over the world and through all ages, I find no one who understands My heart.
So should it be, for I have never taught it before, It is natural that you know nothing.
This time I, God, revealing Myself to the fore, Teach you all the truth in detail.
You are calling this place the Jiba, the home of God, in Yamato; But you do not know its origin.
If you are told of this origin in full, Great yearning will come over you, whoever you may be.
If you wish to hear and will come to Me, I will tell you the truth that this place is the origin of any and everything.
When I, God, reveal Myself and teach you everything in detail, All people in the world will become cheerful.
As I hasten to save all of you equally, I will set out to cheer up all the minds of the world.
Okada sensei’s presentation was pretty straightforward, with an emphasis on historical elements. There was little time devoted going over the content/meaning of the Yorozuyo. He pointed out that the first pages of Chapter Six from The Life of Oyasama “The Identification of the Jiba” had a very good summary of what the meaning of the Yorozuyo were (pp. 77–78).1
Okada sensei related that that content of Yorozuyo could be summed up as expressing the three main points:
- “Declaration at the founding of the teaching”
- “the foundation of existence”
- “bringing salvation into reality”
(Note that I’ve taken these from the “incomplete notes from the handout I’m supposed to refrain from quoting.)
Among the subjects Okada sensei covered in his lecture I’d thought to mention was that the performance of the Yorozuyo was once banned along with Song Three and Song Five of the Mikagura-uta during Japan’s war years. While Okada sensei mentioned that the common element the government objected to concerning these Songs was “Jiba,” my own research shows that this is only partly true, as “Jiba” — the spot of creation as considered in Tenrikyo belief — is mentioned in Yorozuyo, Song Five, and Song Eleven (but not Song Three).
Here is a blurb from my master’s thesis: “Government officials pressed Tenrikyo leadership to change the verses containing offending terms ‘original and true kami’ (moto no kami, jitsu no kami; MKU 3: 9–10) and ‘Jiba of origin’ (5: 9) but the latter decided to delete the Songs altogether instead of revising Miki’s original text. The Yorozuyo Hasshu, the prelude to the Twelve Songs in the Mikagura-uta, was considered problematic in that it implicitly referred to the Doroumi koki [The Chronicles of the Muddy Ocean or the Tenrikyo Story of Creation]” (Reference source: Tenrikyo jiten p. 321).
The deleted portions of the Mikagura-uta were restored soon after Japan’s defeat in WWII, at the Autumn Grand Service of 1945 (October 26).
Okada sensei mentioned in passing there was a generation of people who did not know that the Yorozuyo, Song Three, and Song Five existed, but I can’t help but conclude that he is exaggerating a bit and making a presumption on his part.
First, if I am not mistaken, the deletion of these Songs only lasted probably no more than five or six years at the most. Second, I feel that even though these Songs were officially deleted, it is a bit presumptive to say that their performances and practice disappeared altogether. I would like to imagine there were underground and secret efforts during the war years practicing and teaching them. (I feel bad nitpicking Okada sensei especially after how I walked out of his presentation at Tenri Forum two years ago. He seems like an awfully nice chap, if that means anything to anyone.)
The last thing I wished to bring up from the lecture was how the practice of displaying a framed Yorozuyo (usually in fancy calligraphy script) at churches began fairly recently, in April 1947 at Church Headquarters in Jiba.
This displaying of the Yorozuyo replaced the shinto sanpai kokoro-e 信徒参拝心得 a list of followers’ regulations that was displayed at all churches that functioned as public declarations of loyalty toward the emperor and the state that was introduced in 1906.
While the sanpai kokoro-e had just three articles, the first saying something about conducting oneself in a proper manner of dress and behavior when praying in the sanctuary, the second article of the followers’ regulations read as follows: “Before petitioning every prayer for their happiness and that of their families, worshipers are obligated, without fail, to pray for peace during the imperial reign of the eternal nation.” This is pretty heavy-duty imperialistic stuff that I am surprised Church Headquarters waited almost two years after the war to change. But I guess this just goes to show how slow things change in religious organizations even when the change is supposedly positive.
The Tenri jiho newspaper article from the time is pretty adamant to churches about replacing their framed followers’ regulations (If there is anyone out there who is curious what the third and last article of the sanpai kokoro-e is, it says something about not making any “unreasonable” prayers and making the church sanctuary a place to ease one’s mind. Note: This paraphrase/translation is “incomplete” as well. Ha ha ha.)
August Monthly Service at Tenrikyo Church Headquarters
The Monthly Sermon was delivered by Nishiura sensei. I didn’t catch the first name. It would not take much of an effort on my part to find out, but alas, I find myself to be too lazy to do so and pressed for time this month. Apologies galore on my part for this and for zoning out for the majority of the sermon. Here are things Nishiura sensei mentioned:
- Tenrikyo is a path of spiritual growth with important elements such as responding to the “parental love” of God the Parent, Oyasama, the Shinbashira, his wife, and the former Shinbashira. I also have “A thing lent, a thing borrowed” and Ofudesaki 14:35 (Day after day, the concern of the Parent is only about the means to save you) here in my notes but I don’t remember how all this pieces together.
- Oyasama is everliving. The Osashizu relates that she “has not gone anywhere,” while she is not physically present Oyasama goes here and there to work remarkable salvation.
- Here is the part that left the largest impression on me: the Hinagata, Oyasama’s Divine Model, is not something to emulate just in form or something to copy by going through the motions (“katachi dake“). It is far more important to emulate the way Oyasama “handled her mind” (kokoro no mochi-kata) or her mind-set.
I want to think my zoning out and incapability of paying close attention to a lecture/sermon in Japanese for more than a few minutes shows that I need a vacation. Maybe a permanent vacation! (From Japan especially!)
I actually had three days off I spent with my in-laws, not what you can really call a vacation, but such dangerous tip-toeing toward bitching and moaning territory reminds me what I often told myself when I was younger and more idealistic: If you have the luxury of bitching and moaning, things aren’t really that bad. Wish I still felt so idealistic. I just feel really grumpy these days: In my head there’s so many things I know I ought to be happy and thankful for, but the feeling isn’t there. Ugh. Hope I get out of this spiritual slumpfest by next month.
*Note: This post has been revised since its original publication.
- Technically speaking, the chapter discusses the first verses of the Ofudesaki. While content-wise they are similar to Yorozuyo, there is an important distinction between them: The first eight Ofudesaki verses are waka poems with a 5-7-5-7-7 syllable count which Oyasama took and reformatted into a 5-7-5-7-5 syllable count more suited to song and dance when she turned them into Yorozuyo. ↩